2015 Computational Social Science Summit

This new annual computational social science summit is designed to create a broad community of social science researchers - academics, tech industry workers, open data activists, government agency workers, and think tank analysts – dedicated to advancing sociological knowledge through computational methods. Our goal is to foreground social science research and identify areas that can benefit from a deep engagement with computer science and related areas.

The inaugural Summit took place over three days, from May 15-17 at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, IL.  See video coverage of the entire event here.  Below is additional information on the event.


The Summit began on Friday, May 15th with training workshops for social science researchers and data analytics enthusiasts who are newcomers to computational methods or who simply want to broaden their computational tool-kits by learning new methods and related software techniques, for example using R to do social network analysis. At the same time, a day-long datathon was hosted: an intensive team-based workshop format modeled after hackathons. During the datathon, researchers who already have computational skills utilized prepared datasets and computational methods to respond to sociological questions developed by our panel of judges. Judges included Matt Gee of the University of Chicago's Urban Center for Computation and Data and the Center for Data Science and Public Policy, Gueorgi Kossinets of Google, and Susan Parker of the University of Chicago's Crime Lab.

Workshops: The workshops included an introduction to core computing skills and an introduction to computational techniques using the computer language R.
  • Training Workshop 1a: Jackie Milhans - Lead Computational Specialist, Northwestern University
    Computational Research Fundamentals
  • Training Workshop 1b: Stuart Shulman - Texifter, LLC
    Text Analytics for Social Data Using DiscoverText & Sifter
  • Training Workshop 2a: Lorien Jasny - National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, University of Maryland
    Social Network Analysis Using R
  • Training Workshop 2b: Brian Lange - Data Scientist, Datascope Analytics
    Natural Language Processing and Text Analysis in Python
Datathon: Laura Norén - Center for Data Science, New York University
The theme of the datathon was "Crime in Chicago".

General Session:

May 16-17 featured research presentations, special topic panels, and keynote speakers representing the cutting edge of computational social science: David Ferrucci of Bridgewater Associates (formerly of IBM Watson), Katy Börner of Indiana University, Sandra González-Bailón of University of Pennsylvania, Michael Macy of Cornell University, and Moran Cerf of Northwestern University. Panels addressed issues such as reproducibility across the academic/industry divide, how human subjects review procedures apply to new data collection techniques, alternative metrics for assessing productive collaborations, how to apply computational methods to social science research, and new research in computational social science.

View the full agenda here.